Former Keene Mayor Hansel considering bid for Kuster's seat in Congress

George Hansel

George Hansel —Courtesy


The Keene Sentinel

Published: 03-29-2024 11:30 AM

One day after Democratic U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster said she would not seek re-election, former Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern threw his hat in the ring for the job, while former Keene Mayor George Hansel said he was considering running.

Van Ostern, a Concord Democrat, said Thursday in a prepared statement that he supports efforts to pass a national law to protect reproductive rights. He also said he would like to work on making housing, college, health care and child care more affordable.

“I’m running for Congress in 2024 here in New Hampshire, because I know that the only way to fix what’s broken in our country today is to make our government work for everyday people and middle class families again,” said Van Ostern, who narrowly lost the 2016 governor’s race to Chris Sununu.  

“There are real challenges we face as a country, but we’ve tackled problems this big as a nation before, and won. We’ve gotten through darker days, and come out stronger before. The time to do it is now.”

Kuster has represented New Hampshire’s 2nd Congressional District for a dozen years. The district covers the entire western portion of the state, including all of Cheshire County.

Hansel, a Republican, said he’s been receiving a lot of calls asking if he’s interested in the post, which he ran for two years ago.  

“The thing that’s really going through my mind is, ‘How can I be effective if I win,’ " he said in an interview Thursday. “I’ve never been one to run for public office for a vanity project. It’s really to get things done.

“Along with just analyzing if that’s the right personal decision for me, there’s some analysis that goes into it, like, ‘How can I be effective? And will I be effective to represent the constituents in CD2? ' ”  

Article continues after...

Yesterday's Most Read Articles

In the 2022 general election, Kuster easily defeated Robert Burns, a strong supporter of former President Donald Trump.

In that year’s crowded Republican primary for Kuster’s seat, Burns beat Hansel, 21,065 to 19,024. Finishing third was Lily Tang Williams, of Weare, with 15,729 votes.

Hansel, who was twice elected as mayor of Keene, a highly Democratic city, was seen as more moderate than Burns.

This year, Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee for president.

Hansel, a close ally of Sununu, said he’s not sure having Trump at the top of the GOP ticket will affect the electability of Republican moderates.

“I don’t know. I feel people are fed up with the status quo,” Hansel said.  

“They are looking for something different. So anyone that’s able to articulate a good message that recognizes their concerns is going to do well as long as they have the ability to drive that message and cut through a lot of the noise.”

Williams has already announced she is running again for Kuster’s seat. Burns said he is strongly considering running as well.

On the Democratic side of the race to succeed Kuster, state Sen. Donovan Fenton of Keene is someone whose name has come up in political circles as a potential candidate.

“There’s plenty of time for politics here and when you consider running for office, you really have to consider Annie’s legacy and consider that we do need genuine leaders to take up the mantle and get things done as she has,” Fenton said Wednesday. “So to be asked about something like that is certainly something to give careful thought to.”

The candidate filing period for the Sept. 10 state primary is June 5-14. The general election will be on Nov. 5.